Dr Edgar Borrow, a farmer and mechanical engineer in Hampshire, England, served on local and regional councils at a time when the need for fluoridation was being debated at great length. Combining his engineering skills with his experience gained from dairy farming, he began to explore the possibilities of fluoridating milk. It occurred to him that school milk programmes might be used as a vehicle for the delivery of fluoride to children in communities where the fluoridation of water supplies was not possible. Having discovered that studies in this field had been undertaken in the 1950s and 1960s and that the results of this work had been encouraging, in 1971 he established the Foundation.
For many years milk fluoridation remained the charity’s core interest. During this time the funding of extensive research greatly strengthened the scientific base for this means of intervention. Whilst milk fluoridation remains a priority for the Foundation, in recent years the charity has broadened the scope of its activities, and more particularly its work in the wider areas of oral disease prevention.
Grants have been made for a number of population-based programmes. These include longstanding milk fluoridation schemes implemented through schools and kindergartens, under the auspices of central government agencies in Thailand and Chile, and scheme operated by local authorities in the United Kingdom.
Support has been provided for other prevention programmes in Cambodia, Laos, Madagascar, Palestine, Tanzania, Timor-Leste and Zambia. Although the types of intervention have varied, these programmes have again been delivered in the school and kindergarten settings. We have also awarded grants for oral health surveys to be undertaken in Bhutan, Hungary, Lithuania, Myanmar, and Vietnam, where the results will be used to inform the review and development of oral health strategies.
These awards have been granted mainly to government agencies, although they have also been made to charities / non-governmental organisations (NGOs); a number of the initiatives have been jointly funded. Over the past three years population-based projects in 16 countries, across four continents, Asia, Africa, South America and Europe, have benefitted from our funding.